Home>Articles>The O’Toole Chronicles: The Political Bends (Part 2)

Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: The Political Bends (Part 2)

By Kevin O'Toole, February 01 2021 12:01 am

To read The O’Toole Chronicles: The Political Bends (Part 1), click HERE.

The Political Bends (“TPB”) is a nasty condition that often afflicts a vast majority of the ruling political class. Derived from a diving term — Decompression Sickness (DCS), or divers’ disease, or “the Bends,” this condition hits you when one is least aware or suspecting. In diving, a rapid ascent sometimes causes a rapid release of nitrogen gas, which causes bubbles to develop in the blood stream. Those bubbles can cause a range of medical conditions including  joint ache, memory loss, paralysis or even death. A rapid rise in politics, like diving, is advised against.

Symptoms of TPB to look for with a newly elected office holder:

  • Demands new carpeting and décor in office;
  • Expects to be driven by aides;
  • Demands to be called by title;
  • Wears a legislative pin to social events that have nothing to do with their office;
  • Has staff dial the phone and get individuals on the phone before taking the phone to speak;
  • Can no longer speak before a crowd until provided with a “briefing memo”;
  • Their smile gets a bit wider every time they are introduced by the office they hold;
  • Love to regal stories of how many people referred to them by their title at a POLITICAL event;
  • Gets vanity plates before swearing in; and
  • Has their staff make personal dinner reservations so the maître’ d knows they are a “somebody.”

Symptoms of TPB for those recently out of office:

  • Keeps vanity plates;
  • Leaves messages with former title of last office;
  • Is confused that their phone is not busy as it once was;
  • Is suddenly looking at an empty calendar;
  • Continues to have weekly power lunches with former staffers and supporters;
  • Suddenly appears at school or sporting events of children or grandchildren;
  • The invites to golf outings are suddenly limited to charities who actually expect you to donate;
  • You have to start paying for your meals;
  • com is now necessary to get a reservation; and
  • Gets vanity plates that say “former” – a real thing – think former Mayor/Senator from NJ’s largest city.

Don’t fall ill to TPB.  When all is said and done, expect to be treated in the “real world” as you treated others when you were in that public position. I will save for another time stories of Governors, Senators, Assemblymembers, Mayors, Chiefs of Staff, Chief Counsels, Commissioners and the like who shipwrecked once promising careers because they acted with a level of arrogance/hubris when holding that power position. Life, much like the earth, is round and what comes around goes around.

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